In the wake of hearings and testimonies last week, Brock Turner, a 20-year-old former Stanford student, was found guilty for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in January of 2015.
On the night of the incident, the victim was reportedly so intoxicated that her blood-alcohol level was over three times the legal limit, while Turner’s was over two times the limit. Turner claims that he is still able to remember the events of the night (allowing him to argue his apparent innocence), while the victim testified that she doesn’t recall what took place.
According to police reports and investigative evidence reported by The Washington Post, “bruises to [the] body” of the young woman were found when she was taken to the hospital after being found with Turner on top of her by two passing bicyclists.
The San Jose Mercury News points out that Stanford was one of the colleges and universities being investigated by the federal Office for Civil Rights for negligence in handling sexual assault cases and response.
The Washington Post calls also this “a stunning fall from grace for Turner,” as he was a talented swimmer and aspired to the Olympics. One man told a local TV station that he “will always wonder if consent happened or not.” These comments take the focus off the actual victim of an attempted rape, painting the perpetrator himself as the victim.
It’s important to avoid making this another “he was so young” or “he had so much potential” story that perpetuates victim blaming and rape culture. This case should be, for Stanford and for other schools and communities, a force for reforming sexual assault response systems and rape culture in general. Rape is an attack on someone’s body and livelihood. One cannot give consent under the influence of substances, coercion or, as in this case, while unconscious. Consent may not be sexy, but it’s required.
Turner is set to be sentenced June 2, and for now remains free on bail.